The Redirection Of Flights From Abuja To Kaduna; Crocodiles, Bandits, Potholes And Hundreds Of Flights A Month

Two months ago, Mohammed Sani’s thorniest management challenge was to stop cows snoozing on this sleepy airport’s runway. In case you missed it we also brought you a short article here on this same subject nearly two weeks ago.

Beginning March 8, the airport serving Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, will be closed for at least six weeks to repair giant potholes scarring its runway. All air traffic will be rerouted to Kaduna, a dusty city located 100 miles north along a potholed road blighted by hijackings and kidnappings.

The airport at Kaduna—referred to by locals as “crocodile city” because the reptiles were once so plentiful they sunbathed on the riverbanks—welcomed just 12 domestic flights in December, according to the Nigerian aviation authority. More than 800 flights landed in Abuja, including international carriers arriving from New York, London and Dubai. Nigeria’s superrich business and political elites flit in and out of Abuja daily on private jets.

A Feb. 8 travel warning from the State Department reiterated that U.S. citizens should avoid all but essential travel to Kaduna, citing the “high risk” of terrorism.

International carriers including Lufthansa, British Airways and Emirates have already decided the relocation plan won’t fly and say they won’t land in Kaduna. (Others haven’t stated their plans.) Some businessmen say they will take their chances with the treacherous seven-hour drive from Lagos, which has a modern, international airport, on the southern coast.

Kaduna building firms are working to finish a new terminal that has been in construction for six years, but they say government funding has dried up. Last week, bricks were stacked throughout the building’s unfinished carcass. Mounds of sand and garbage were piled next to an area earmarked for a walkway. With